Promoting Pet Adoption
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What Documents Do You Need to Adopt a Dog (or other pet)?

You've selected a pet, the staff has agreed that it's a good match, and now it's time to take the final steps to adopt a shelter pet! Pet adoption is an exciting but also time-consuming process. It's always best to call ahead and find out . Here is a list of some of the more typical documentation that is requested.

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  • Picture identification with your current address. Two pieces of government-issued identification is ideal, and at least one needs to have a photo. A driver's license is an example. Be prepared with an additional piece of ID just in case. If you don't have a photo ID, bring several other pieces of identification including a recent utility bill with your name and your current address.

  • If you're renting your home, bring your lease or a letter from the landlord. Your lease should explicitly state that pets are allowed, otherwise ask your landlord to write you a letter. The letter should show your name and your address. It must state that you are permitted to have pets, and how many. Your landlord's contact information should also be displayed.

    If possible, give your landlord notice that you are going to be adopting a pet and ask if he'll be available should the shelter decide to contact him.

  • If you own your home, you might be requested to provide proof of ownership. This can be in the form of a mortgage payment statement, the deed to your home, or any other document that shows that you are the legal owner of that home.

  • Documentation about your current pets. Some shelters may ask to see proof of vaccination for your current pets, spay/neuter certificates, and/or proof of municipal license.

  • Photos of enclosures. If you're adopting a caged pet such as a rodent or a bird, the shelter may request a photo of the enclosure you intend to keep it in. For dogs, a photo of the yard may be requested (a requirement to adopt certain dogs may be to have a fenced yard).

  • References. Have a list of references handy, including their phone numbers (ask them for permission before using them as references!). If you've had pets before, including a veterinary reference is a good idea.


Other things you will need to bring can include:

  • Cash, debit card, or credit card for paying the adoption fee. Some organizations may accept a personal check; ask if you are unsure.

  • Everyone in your household. Many shelters require that every person in your household meet the pet you may be adopting. This is to help ensure that everyone gets along and agrees to the adoption.

    Some shelters even ask that potential dog adopters bring in any existing canine friends, so that they can assess the compatibility of your current dog(s) with the new dog (cats will not need to meet like this). Bring a friend with you if possible, so that you can go through the adoption process while your dog waits in the waiting area - he likely won't be allowed to walk through the shelter and should not be left alone in the car. Otherwise, you may need to request a separate meet-and-greet appointment for the dogs to get acquainted.

It might seem finicky and a hassle to get together all the documents you need to adopt a dog, cat, or other pet, but having them ready will make the shelter adoption process smoother and faster.